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This summer, a few weeks before North Korea decided to start its own time zone — 30 minutes behind South Korea and Japan, beginning August 15 — the historically secretive hermit kingdom announced that it planned to allow up to two million annual tourists by the year 2020.
According to The Guardian, that number represents a 20-fold increase in visitor traffic — an ambitious number no doubt predicated on the country’s ongoing need for hard currency. In January, James R. Clapper Jr., the United States Director of National Intelligence, found this out when he was billed for his portion of a 12-course meal as the guest of Kim Jong Un.
Currently, Kim’s elaborate plans for the infrastructure of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, include a 15-hectacre water park and an underwater hotel, among other architectural feats. This year, the government debuted slogans encouraging citizens to “Let us usher in a great golden age of construction” to benefit the nation’s most elite citizens, while the remainder of the country struggles with a severe shortage of food and other critical resources.
All five restaurants are within the Ryugyong Hotel, the infamous pyramid structure that was meant to open in 2012, commemorating what would have been the hundredth birthday of Kim Il-Sung, the country’s “Eternal President.”
It’s not clear when the hotel and its orbiting eateries will actually be completed, but it’s clear that Kim Jong Un plans to make a big impression.
“The leader is always planning many exciting things for people to do, to show of the beauty of our country to visitors,” a tour guide explained to a journalist for The Guardian during a recent visit. “We hope you will enjoy, and take back happy experiences to your country.”